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Event Title

CYP1A2/CYP1A5, Induction

Key Event Overview

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AOPs Including This Key Event

AOP Name Event Type Essentiality
AhR activation leading to uroporphyria KE Strong

Taxonomic Applicability

Name Scientific Name Evidence Links

Level of Biological Organization

Biological Organization

How this Key Event works

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is involved in the regulation of several genes, including phase I (e.g. CYP1A, CYP1B, CYP2A) and phase II enzymes (e.g. UDP-GT, GSTs)[1][2][3]. Upon ligand binding, the AHR migrates to the nucleus where it dissociates from the cytosolic complex and forms a heterodimer with ARNT[3]. The AHR-ARNT complex then binds to a xenobiotic response element (XRE) found in the promoter of an AHR-regulated gene and recruits co-regulators such as CREB binding protein/p300, steroid receptor co-activator (SRC) 1, SRC-2, SRC-3 and nuclear receptor interacting protein 1, leading to induction or repression of gene expression[1].

The Cyp1A2/Cyp1A5 gene encodes a member of the cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes. The cytochrome P450 proteins are monooxygenases which catalyze many reactions involved in drug metabolism and synthesis of cholesterol, steroids and other lipids. The protein encoded by this gene localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum and its expression is induced by some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), some of which are found in cigarette smoke. The enzyme's endogenous substrate is unknown; however, it is able to metabolize some PAHs to carcinogenic intermediates. Other xenobiotic substrates for this enzyme include caffeine, aflatoxin B1, and acetaminophen. [4]

Of all AHR-regulated genes, the CYP1A subfamily of enzymes is the most studied and is often used as a biomarker of Dioxin-like compound (DLC) exposure and toxicity[5][6][7][8]. CYP1A5 is the avian isoform and is orthologous to the mammalian CYP1A2[9]. CYP1A5 is expressed in avian heart, liver and kidney tissues[10][11], and DLC-mediated induction of CYP1A5 mRNA has been measured in avian hepatocyte and cardiomyocyte cultures[12][13][10][14]. Positive correlations between hepatic CYP1A expression and DLC concentrations have also been reported in wild bird species, including bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)[15], great blue herons (Ardea herodias)[16], double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus)[17], black-crowned night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax)[18] and ospreys (Pandion haliaetus)[19]. Mouse CYP1A2 is only constitutively expressed in the liver, but is inducible in the liver, lung, and duodenum[20].

How it is Measured or Detected

Methods that have been previously reviewed and approved by a recognized authority should be included in the Overview section above. All other methods, including those well established in the published literature, should be described here. Consider the following criteria when describing each method: 1. Is the assay fit for purpose? 2. Is the assay directly or indirectly (i.e. a surrogate) related to a key event relevant to the final adverse effect in question? 3. Is the assay repeatable? 4. Is the assay reproducible?

Enzyme activity

There are a number of substrates that are preferentially metabolized by Cyp1A2 and CYP1A5 allowing for CYP1A activity to be measured as a function metabolite formation. Methoxyresorufin O-demethylation (MROD) is a classic marker of Cyp1A2/5 activity[21] and is often used due to the ease of fluorometric techniques; however, Burke et al.[21] suggest that a ratio of MROD to ethoxyresorufin O-demethylation (EROD) is a better measure of CYP1A2 activity due to the contribution of CYP1A1 to MROD. CYP1A2/5 activity can also be measured as the metabolic rate of arachidonic acid[11], oroporphyrinogen[22], acetanilide 4-hydroxylase and caffeine[23]. Caffeine metabolism has been used in clinical studies as a biomarker for CYP1A2 activity in humans[24].

Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR)

Levels of CYP1A2/5 messenger RNA can be measured using QPCR. This technique monitors the amplification of a targeted gene during PCR as accumulative fluorescence [25]. For example, Head and Kennedy[26] developed a multiplex QPCR assay utilizing dual-labeled fluorescent probes to measure CYP1A4 and CYP1A5 mRNA levels simultaneously from samples already analyzed for EROD activity. QPCR has high throughput capability and a low detection limit relative to other methods.

Luciferase reporter gene (LRG) assay

An LRG assay can be used to measure AHR1-mediated transactivation of a target gene. This assay is particularly useful as it can measures CYP1A4/5 induction exclusively caused by activation of the AHR, through which many DLCs exert their toxic effects. This assay is easily modified to measure AHR1-mediated transactivation in various species, simply by transfecting the desired AHR cDNA clone and reporter gene construct (containing the appropriate reporter gene) into the chosen cell line. This has been demonstrated to be an efficient high throughput method in various avian and mammalian studies.[27][28][29]

Evidence Supporting Taxonomic Applicability


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fujii-Kuriyama, Y., and Kawajiri, K. (2010). Molecular mechanisms of the physiological functions of the aryl hydrocarbon (dioxin) receptor, a multifunctional regulator that senses and responds to environmental stimuli. Proc.Jpn.Acad.Ser.B Phys.Biol.Sci. 86, 40-53.
  2. Giesy, J. P., Kannan, K., Blankenship, A. L., Jones, P. D., and Newsted, J. L. (2006). Toxicology of PCBs and related compounds. In Endocrine Disruption Biological Bases for Health Effects in Wildlife and Humans (D. O. Norris, and J. A. Carr, Eds.), pp. 245-331. Oxford University Press, New York.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Mimura, J., and Fujii-Kuriyama, Y. (2003). Functional role of AhR in the expression of toxic effects by TCDD. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects 1619, 263-268.
  4. [1]"Entrez Gene: cytochrome P450; Gene ID: 1544."
  5. Harris, M. L., and Elliott, J. E. (2011). Effects of Polychlorinated Biphenyls, Dibenzo-p-Dioxins and Dibenzofurans, and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in Wild Birds. In Environmental Contaminants in Biota (J. P. Meador, Ed.), pp. 477-528. CRC Press.
  6. Head, J. A., Farmahin, R., Kehoe, A. S., O'Brien, J. M., Shutt, J. L., and Kennedy, S. W. (2010). Characterization of the avian aryl hydrocarbon receptor 1 from blood using non-lethal sampling methods. Ecotoxicology 19, 1560-1566.
  7. Rifkind, A. B. (2006). CYP1A in TCDD toxicity and in physiology - With particular reference to CYP dependent arachidonic acid metabolism and other endogenous substrates. Drug Metabolism Reviews 38, 291-335.
  8. Safe, S. (1987). Determination of 2,3,7,8-TCDD toxic equivalent factors (TEFs): Support for the use of the in vitro AHH induction assay. Chemosphere 16, 791-802.
  9. Goldstone, H. M. H., and Stegeman, J. J. (2006). A revised evolutionary history of the CYP1A subfamily: Gene duplication, gene conversion, and positive selection. Journal of Molecular Evolution 62, 708-717.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Jones, S. P., and Kennedy, S. W. (2009). Chicken embryo cardiomyocyte cultures--a new approach for studying effects of halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons in the avian heart. Toxicol.Sci 109, 66-74.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Rifkind, A. B., Kanetoshi, A., Orlinick, J., Capdevila, J. H., and Lee, C. A. (1994). Purification and biochemical characterization of two major cytochrome P-450 isoforms induced by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin in chick embryo liver. J.Biol.Chem. 269, 3387-3396.
  12. Farmahin, R., Crump, D., Jones, S. P., Mundy, L. J., and Kennedy, S. W. (2013a). Cytochrome P4501A induction in primary cultures of embryonic European starling hepatocytes exposed to TCDD, PeCDF and TCDF. Ecotoxicology.
  13. Hervé, J. C., Crump, D., Jones, S. P., Mundy, L. J., Giesy, J. P., Zwiernik, M. J., Bursian, S. J., Jones, P. D., Wiseman, S. B., Wan, Y., and Kennedy, S. W. (2010a). Cytochrome P4501A induction by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and two chlorinated dibenzofurans in primary hepatocyte cultures of three avian species. Toxicol.Sci. 113, 380-391.
  14. Manning, G. E., Mundy, L. J., Crump, D., Jones, S. P., Chiu, S., Klein, J., Konstantinov, A., Potter, D., and Kennedy, S. W. (2013). Cytochrome P4501A induction in avian hepatocyte cultures exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls: comparisons with AHR1-mediated reporter gene activity and in ovo toxicity. Toxicol.Appl.Pharmacol. 266, 38-47.
  15. Elliott, J. E., Norstrom, R. J., Lorenzen, A., Hart, L. E., Philibert, H., Kennedy, S. W., Stegeman, J. J., Bellward, G. D., and Cheng, K. M. (1996). Biological effects of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans, and biphenyls in bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) chicks. Environ.Toxicol.Chem. 15, 782-793.
  16. Bellward, G. D., Norstrom, R. J., Whitehead, P. E., Elliott, J. E., Bandiera, S. M., Dworschak, C., Chang, T., Forbes, S., Cadario, B., Hart, L. E., and . (1990). Comparison of polychlorinated dibenzodioxin levels with hepatic mixed-function oxidase induction in great blue herons. J.Toxicol.Environ.Health 30, 33-52.
  17. Sanderson, J. T., Norstrom, R. J., Elliott, J. E., Hart, L. E., Cheng, K. M., and Bellward, G. D. (1994). Biological effects of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, dibenzofurans, and biphenyls in double-crested cormorant chicks (Phalacrocorax auritus). J.Toxicol.Environ.Health 41, 247-265.
  18. Rattner, B. A., Hatfield, J. S., Melancon, M. J., Custer, T. W., and Tillitt, D. E. (1994). Relation among cytochrome-P450, Ah-active PCB congeners and dioxin equivalents in pipping black-crowned night-heron embryos. Environ.Toxicol.Chem. 13, 1805-1812.
  19. Elliott, J. E., Wilson, L. K., Henny, C. J., Trudeau, S. F., Leighton, F. A., Kennedy, S. W., and Cheng, K. M. (2001). Assessment of biological effects of chlorinated hydrocarbons in osprey chicks. Environ.Toxicol.Chem. 20, 866-879.
  20. Dey, A., Jones, J. E., and Nebert, D. W. (1999). Tissue- and cell type-specific expression of cytochrome P450 1A1 and cytochrome P450 1A2 mRNA in the mouse localized in situ hybridization. Biochem. Pharmacol. 58 (3), 525-537.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Burke, M. D., Thompson, S., Weaver, R. J., Wolf, C. R., and Mayer, R. T. (1994). Cytochrome P450 specificities of alkoxyresorufin O-dealkylation in human and rat liver. Biochem. Pharmacol. 48 (5), 923-936.
  22. Sinclair, P. R., Gorman, N., Walton, H. S., Sinclair, J. F., Lee, C. A., and Rifkind, A. B. (1997). Identification of CYP1A5 as the CYP1A enzyme mainly responsible for uroporphyrinogen oxidation induced by AH receptor ligands in chicken liver and kidney. Drug Metab. Dispos. 25 (7), 779-783.
  23. Staskal, D. F., Diliberto, J. J., DeVito, M. J., and Birnbaum, L. S. (2005). Inhibition of human and rat CYP1A2 by TCDD and dioxin-like chemicals. Toxicol. Sci. 84 (2), 225-231.
  24. Kalow, W., and Tang, B. K. (1991). Use of caffeine metabolite ratios to explore CYP1A2 and xanthine oxidase activities. Clin Pharmacol. Ther. 50 (5 Pt 1), 508-519.
  25. [2]"Real-time polymerase chain reaction"
  26. Head, J. A., and Kennedy, S. W. (2007). Same-sample analysis of ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity and cytochrome P4501A mRNA abundance in chicken embryo hepatocytes. Anal. Biochem. 360 (2), 294-302.
  27. Farmahin, R., Manning, G. E., Crump, D., Wu, D., Mundy, L. J., Jones, S. P., Hahn, M. E., Karchner, S. I., Giesy, J. P., Bursian, S. J., Zwiernik, M. J., Fredricks, T. B., and Kennedy, S. W. (2013). Amino acid sequence of the ligand-binding domain of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor 1 predicts sensitivity of wild birds to effects of dioxin-like compounds. Toxicol. Sci. 131 (1), 139-152.
  28. Farmahin, R., Wu, D., Crump, D., Hervé, J. C., Jones, S. P., Hahn, M. E., Karchner, S. I., Giesy, J. P., Bursian, S. J., Zwiernik, M. J., and Kennedy, S. W. (2012). Sequence and in vitro function of chicken, ring-necked pheasant, and Japanese quail AHR1 predict in vivo sensitivity to dioxins. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46 (5), 2967-2975.
  29. Garrison, P. M., Tullis, K., Aarts, J. M., Brouwer, A., Giesy, J. P., and Denison, M. S. (1996). Species-specific recombinant cell lines as bioassay systems for the detection of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin-like chemicals. Fundam. Appl. Toxicol. 30 (2), 194-203.